adrift on a cosmic ocean

Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.

  • Checkpoints and Gatekeeping versus Principles and Values
    Posted by Oliver on the 9th of December, 2018 in category Tech
    Picture the scene: you have a new project to start working on and deliver in a relatively short amount of time. You have done lots of research, know the problem to be solved, have worked diligently on whittling down the scope to just the bare elements that will prove or disprove the utility of the idea. You know how long it will take to build a first iteration, have a pretty good idea of how to…
  • Blender - Baking Textures Within One Object
    Posted by Oliver on the 28th of October, 2018 in category Tech
    This is not a ground-breaking new concept, but since I failed to find decent material on it when searching, and it's not entirely clear from the Blender documentation, I thought I'd write someabout about it with screenshots. Normally, when we are baking textures in Blender (e.g. for simplifying the render of a complex scene, or exporting objects and their textures to a game engine), we use the…
  • Reflecting on TypeScript, Lambdas, and of course testing
    Posted by Oliver on the 27th of September, 2018 in category Tech
    Yet another long-overdue post. The last couple of weeks (or perhaps sprints) my team has dived into Typescript for a new project. I like it, really like it. Maybe that's just because for years I've feared Javascript, haven't understood enough about how to unit testing, and found myself writing terrible code and just running it to find the bugs. This is not a very good development methodology…
  • Latest progress in Blender
    Posted by Oliver on the 30th of June, 2018 in category Tech
    I'm not sure I've mentioned it on this blog before, but almost three years ago I started a number of online courses around 3D modelling and game development. Way back in 2013 I had done a course on Coursera which introduced me to event loop-based game programming, although the programming difficult of the course was very low. Later on suggestion from a co-worker I looked into Löve2D and took…
  • Challenges when working with OpenResty
    Posted by Oliver on the 23rd of June, 2018 in category Tech
    Before you get any ideas about the topic of this post, it's not a rant about OpenResty at all - it's actually a great piece of software and in my opinion a fantastic integration between a capable webserver (Nginx) and a light-weight programming language (Lua). The combination makes it ideal for high-performance delivery of traffic with some light business logic thrown in as well. We use it at my…
  • Client applications and TCP reset handling
    Posted by Oliver on the 10th of June, 2018 in category Tech
    Disclaimer : Most of this post was written in 2014, but it's been languishing in my drafts folder for a long time and I thought I'd push the publish button rather than waiting to perfect it. The original context was that I was attempting to perform integration testing on a client application that needed to handle a variety of different network behaviours - including TCP resets. I mulled over how…
  • Character encodings and S3 distributed workloads
    Posted by Oliver on the 9th of June, 2018 in category Tech
    Quite some time ago at an AWS Meetup in 2014 I gave a talk (sadly, I can't find the slides) about how we used S3 and built tooling to interact with it based on our understanding of how the internals of the platform worked, and best practices as advised by AWS themselves. One large aspect of the tooling we built was a custom base 62 encoding using the math/big package from the Go standard…
  • Migrating the blog to Gatsby/Contentful/Netlify
    Posted by Oliver on the 3rd of June, 2018 in category Tech
    If you have previously read anything on this blog (directly, rather than via RSS) you will have noticed that the visuals have been updated. This is the culmination of a very long and arduous process - entirely my responsibility and self-inflicted - and as a result, it is running via Netlify , built with Gatsby and stored in Contentful . For styling I relied heavily on Tachyons and for the…
  • Culture Codes From Around The Tech World
    Posted by Oliver on the 8th of February, 2017 in category Tech
    Last week I found myself reading through all (ok not entirely all, I skipped the NASA one) of the slide decks on culturecodes.co - there are a variety of slide decks from tech companies, which attempt to describe what the company culture looks like, their values, or company processes that serve as an employee handbook. They are called Culture Codes and not Company Culture because culture can…
  • iframe-based dashboards don't work in 2017
    Posted by Oliver on the 5th of January, 2017 in category Tech
    At $current_employer (unlike $previous_employer where all these problems were sorted out), we have great huge TVs in every room but not consistently useful usage of them. I love seeing big, beautiful dashboards and KPIs visualised everywhere but right now, we just don't have that in place. No matter, this is part of my mission to improve engineering practices here and I'm happy to tackle it…
© 2010-2018 Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins